What a great read! This had everything that I needed right now. The main characters, Gregory and Freya, were great characters that I really loved reading about. I couldn't get enough of the chemistry between them. Freya's niece Ella was an absolute hoot and kept me laughing throughout the book. I enjoyed the fact that this was on the shorter side so that it didn't drag on at all.
WANTED: a whole new family to share holidays with. Please have a good heart and be a thoughtful, polite person. No sociopaths, no pedophiles, no fans of the Kardashians. We're not weirdos, I promise. I love old Steve Martin movies, new Steve Martin banjo tunes, Indian food, and reruns of Bob Ross painting happy little trees. So if you're looking for something other than the typical family dysfunction this Christmas, drop us a line.
After losing her beloved mother to cancer, 37-year-old Jaime Collins must confront the ugly fact that she and her siblings don't actually like one another. At all. Fueled by grief and an epic argument at Thanksgiving dinner, Jaime decides to divorce her siblings and posts an ad on Craigslist for a new family with whom to share Christmas dinner.
What happens next is a heartwarming, funny, and surprising journey to forgiveness and healing. Is blood really thicker than water? What makes a family? And how far do we have to go to find our way back home again?
POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel touches upon the topics of cutting, depression, abusive relationships and attempted suicide.
Thirty-seven year old Jaime Collins recently lost her mom to cancer. Now the holiday season is just around the corner and Jaime could not be less enthused. She has no interest in holiday shopping or putting on smiles around her insensitive brother and meddlesome sister-in-law. Things come to a head when she ends up having a blow-out fight with her siblings over Thanksgiving dinner. Riding the high emotions of that night, Jaime goes home and decides to place a Craigslist ad for a new family for Christmas. She requests responses from anyone else feeling alone or fed up with their own family situation. She crafts the ad while intoxicated, posts, and within 12 hours has 26 responses to sift through. The winners for her Christmas party include transgender Chris, daschund-loving Paul, welding artist Evelyn (who also happens to have a dander allergy) and Alyssa, a science major struggling through her own grieving process after recently losing her boyfriend in a car wreck.
re-release cover for this book
While this story certainly has its laughs, it may not be for the more sensitive readers out there because plenty of hard-hitting topics are addressed over the course of Jaime's story. There's also a fair bit of crude language and dark / off-color / risque humor (ie. jokes about strap-ons) implemented in the process. In addition to witnessing our main character work through the grieving process over the death of her mother, we (the readers) are also informed of Jaime's father-in-law battling Alzheimer's, Jaime herself struggling with fertility issues (her journey through IVF treatments), as well as the plot also bringing up the topics of cutting, depression, attempted suicide, abusive relationships and struggles with gender identity.
That night, I sleep on the couch for the first time in years... Erik finds me downstairs in the morning, a hurt look on his face. "We never sleep apart," he says, like a wounded little boy. I tell him he was snoring, that I couldn't sleep, that I didn't want to wake him with my tossing and turning. The real reason is this: I'd simply wanted to be alone with my sadness, giving it space to spread out, because there wasn't enough room for all three of us in the queen-sized bed...Part of it was that I felt like a broken shard from a smashed vase, and I only wanted to spend time with the other broken pieces because maybe we could glue ourselves together and hold water again. Erik wasn't a broken shard. He was a whole vase, forged from some space-age unbreakable polymer. He bounced when he fell. I shattered into sharp little pieces waiting to slice into the next person unfortunate enough to walk into the room barefoot. Or as Frankie would say, I'd cut a bitch. And then feel really bad about it.
Even though I can appreciate that important topics were brought to light in the unfolding of this story, and the story itself is solidly entertaining, it did go on a little long for me. By Chapter 17 I was feeling like the story could've been sufficiently wrapped up, all questions answered... a feeling that continued on right through Chapter 26... and even after that you get three more chapters! I also didn't always love Jaime. In fact, she struck me as a being a little petty with her dad near the end of the book.
In the acknowledgements, Jess Riley gives a shout-out to author friend Jen Lancaster.
Tangling with a White Wolf—Best Christmas Ever, or Real Trouble?
Romance writer Candice Mayfair never missed a deadline in her life—until an accidental bite from a werewolf puppy turns her into an Arctic wolf shifter. She's forced to isolate herself in the wilderness to cope with her unpredictable shifting while she works on her deadlines. After all, for Candice, Christmas is just another day.
Enter private investigator Owen Nottingham, a wolf shifter hired to find Candice so she can collect her inheritance. They have a real problem: she must arrive home in human form, and that's not happening during the full moon. Besides, Owen has a new mission: to convince the pretty she-wolf her best move is to join his pack in time for Christmas...and to prove he's the only wolf for her.
Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas is book two in the White Wolf series by Terry Spear. It’s part of her bigger series Heart of the Wolf.
The characters featured in Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas I remember reading about them in Legend of the White Wolf and of corse they popped up again in another installment in the series, so I have some familiarity with them.
This novel was on ok read. It didn’t wow me or pull me into it. Everything was simple and happens very quickly. The major setup happens in the fist chapter, making it feel rushed. The tone of the book is light. Only touching upon things that should have more importance. For example; the introduction to our heroine and hero, is rushed. We don’t get much depth for the characters. Which made me not fall for them or be invested in them. They where just their.
The romance between Candice and Owen has just a little spice and sweetness. The sweetness was just a little too sweet and so the descriptions got to be a bit repetitive and straightforward.
As for the world building. I’ve always had trouble understanding it. Reading in order would be best, but even then I’m still confused. At the start of the series the world doesn’t know about shifters. They also live very very long lives, but then things kinda change on how long they live, but they are still in hiding from humans. I have always felt like the author wasn’t sure on what direction she wanted to go. Things kinda change suddenly on the life span for the shifters and we still don’t know why this is.
After reading Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas I’m kinda questioning what I saw in Ms. Spear’s wolf series. From what I remember in the earlier books they use to have more depth to the characters and more action, suspense, a dilemma they had to over come, a bad person after them, or some kind of mystery to solve, so that things actually felt like something was going on, but now it feels blasé. From now on if I do pick up Ms. Spear’s I’ll be grabbing the books from my library instead of purchasing. This series and author have lost their appeal to me and I no longer have a big interest in the writing.
Rated: 3 Stars
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Challenge (2018): March Take Control of Your TBR
I ended up enjoying the two books of Pilcher I read so much I decided to read this one and hang waiting until this Fall. "Winter Solstice" touched me a lot. I can see why Moonlight re-reads this one every year. I can see me re-reading this come December. It was a really delightful book and I have to say that everyone in it was fantastic. I am also glad that Pilcher didn't give the characters of Sam and Carrie a happily ever after with romance linked to it. If anything, I see these two as friends, and believe that is probably things will stay due to Carrie's job. I for one am thrilled we didn't have some mess with a woman giving up her sense of self and job for a man.
I am going to give a word of warning here for those who think this is typical romance. There is adultery in this one, and even a situation where we have something going on between a recently widowed man and one of the main characters. I was a bit surprised at first, but rolled with it since it just worked. Moving on to the book now.
Elfrida is a retired actress who has recently moved out of London and is determined to start over again for the last time. She has adopted a dog (Horace) and is determined to be more involved with her nephew and his family. She is taken in by a local family, the Blundell's anf feels a kinship with the father, Oscar, and his daughter, Francine. She realizes she is in danger of it turning into something more and goes away for a month in order to be with her family. When she returns, she finds out that Oscar's wife and daughter have been killed, and he is subsequently being turfed out of his home by his stepsons. Elfrida is taking into Oscar's uncle's confidence and is told about half a house he owns in Scotland. She decides that is where she and Oscar will go so that he can heal away from the village that has so many memories of his dead wife and child.
The book then flips back and forth between Elfrida's nephew's daughter Carrie, a businessman named Sam, Oscar, and Carrie's niece Lucy. All of these people have something going on in their lives that will cause them to be in Scotland for Winter Solstice (and Christmas).
Carrie is getting over a love affair that went south. Moving back to London has her realizing that her mother and sister are still selfish. She ends up taking the reigns on being there for her niece Lucy after her sister is insisted on going to the U.S. for the holidays and her mother refusing to cancel her holiday plans. When Carrie reaches out to her aunt to stay with for the holidays (they really have no place else to go) they join her and Oscar in Scotland with the promise that no one will be celebrating the holiday.
Lucy is a teenager and is frustrated that her father has pretty much disappeared into his new life with his new wife and no her mother is trying to do the same. Her Aunt Carrie coming to the rescue with them going to Scotland for the holidays is just what Lucy needs. She meets a boy named Rory Kennedy and finds herself getting some confidence and finally someone to champion her.
Sam is English, but had lived in New York for years. Newly separated, he is back in England with the proposition of a new job that will have him living in Scotland. I was meh on Sam. He wasn't a bad character or anything. I just didn't find him as engaging as everyone else in this book. And I thought it was pretty bad taste for him to try things on a bit with Carrie. I am glad that got the needed push back it deserved.
I loved each and every piece of this. I also loved Elfrida actually being frustrated with Oscar at times (it's believable) with him wanting to hide from the world and the church and being at first upset that Elfrida's nieces are forced to come to them for the holidays.
The book's settings move from a village in England and then mainly to Scotland. The whole place seemed quite magical. We get to read some what about the inhabitants of the place, but not too much though. We get insights into the Kennedy clan, a widowed and ill man, and Elfrida's housekeeper and her husband.
I do think that the ending made sense for this book. There are still troubles thrown characters way, but they are doing the best that they can with what they got. I would have loved a sequel to this just to see how Elfrida, Oscar, and Lucy end up with Elfrida and Oscar in essence deciding to raise Lucy cause her mother has pretty much abandoned her.